SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 07: Jim Harbaugh speaks at a press conference where he was introduced as the new San Francisco 49ers head coach at the Palace Hotel on January 7, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
If you believe Jed York, the 49ers did go out and get a new, free-agent quarterback for this season.
His name is Jim Harbaugh.
York, the team’s president, told the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday that bringing in Harbaugh as head coach was much more important than going out and making a big splash in free agency.
York’s message: Don’t worry about the Alex Smith you’ve seen in years past, because this year’s model will be much better because of Harbaugh.
There was no need to go after Vince Young, Matt Hasselbeck or Donovan McNabb if the Niners could pair Harbaugh with a re-signed Smith.
“He sees a lot of potential in Alex,” York said of Harbaugh, “and he likes the fact that Alex has been there working with our guys in the off-season.”
True, Harbaugh has some grid cred with QBs. He’s coming from Stanford where Andrew Luck became a monster, and he coached up Josh Johnson at little University of San Diego into becoming an NFL pick.
But can he work wonders with Smith?
Publicly, Harbaugh has said Smith has been “thrown under the bus” by his own team and “maligned by the home town fans,” yet likes the QB’s character.
We’ll see. The debut of the “new” Smith is just five days away, vs. the Saints on Friday night.